The Godlike Genius of Julia Davis

Although I mentioned her in a previous post about "Jam," actress/writer Julia Davis deserves her own BB post, as I, in my office as "current Boing Boing guest blogger," do hereby decree...
Best known as the creator of "Nighty Night," Julia Davis's sense of humor is bleak, black and thoroughly uncomfortable. Although the New York Times described her series as "an English 'Curb Your Enthusiasm," Davis is willing to take far greater risks than Larry David ever would. David, at the end of the day still wants you to LIKE him, but Julia Davis, in her career-defining role as monstrously selfish beautician Jill Tyrell most definitely doesn't give a shit what you think about her! Inspired by Mike Leigh's classic teleplay "Abigail's Party," the plot of "Nighty Night" involves Jill's husband, Terry, being diagnosed with cancer. Although his prognosis isn't terminal, Jill behaves as if it is, and even tries to hasten his not-so-impending death with laxatives and prune juice, so she can get on with HER new life! With Terry held prisoner in the attic, Jill turns her amorous attentions to Don, a doctor who has just moved next door with his wheelchair-bound wife, Cathy. Here is their first meeting. Jill dances to the song "Lavender" by Marillion(!): Although "Nighty Night" did air on the Oxygen network, few Americans are aware of this groundbreaking, darkly comedic creation. You can get it on Amazon and Netflix has it for rental. Check it out, it's brilliant stuff from a unique comic mind (PS Speaking of unique comic minds, Julia Davis is the new mother of twins and the father is Julian Barrett from The Mighty Boosh!) Nighty Night (BBC site) Will "Nighty Night" change the sitcom forever? Turning Glenn down (YouTube) Julia Davis interview: 'I am drawn to extremes' "Let's talk to the Tarot..." (YouTube) "Injure for Friends" (HD YouTube clip from "Jam") A lonely woman goes to great lengths to make friends. 'Comedy is a safe place to let go' "Human Remains" Wikipedia entry on the six-part BBC mockumentary series on marriage by Julia Davis and Rob Bryden AD/BC: A Rock Opera (YouTube) Julia Davis & Matt Berry sing


  1. Well, it can’t be any worse than that Trailer Park Boys recommendation I followed up on last week. My shit-O-meter pegged when one of the comments on that post compared the show to Clerks, but I didn’t listen. To my disappointment….

  2. I guess my sense of humor isn’t developed enough, but I don’t find painfully accurate depictions of sociopathy funny.

  3. I take it she doesn’t care if anyone thinks shes funny; doesn’t seem to be going for that aspect.

  4. Who will Metzger’s next ‘Girl I’m Totally Crushing On’ post be next? Tune in tomorrow and see!

  5. I love Nighty Night. I remember watching it when I was 15 and not quite getting it but now I look back and think it’s hillarious.

    I always find with BB that your articles on Britain’s archaic anti-terror laws and disgraceful action on civil liberties makes me ashamed to be British and then a I see your articles on our amazing TV comedy and I think it’s not all that bad.

  6. I saw this a few years ago using Netflix. This show is outstanding and extremely timely now that many in the corporate world are being exposed as the sociopathic vultures they are. The character Jill has no considerations at all for other’s feelings using and discarding people left and right. How is this the only TV show/film I can think of that shows truly sociopathic people in everyday life, not as murderers or criminals, but the local hairdresser who is too concerned with herself to even notice she is screwing up your hair? There is not an ounce of good in this woman.

    If this makes the show sound unfunny I assure that this is not the case. Jill’s lust after the married doctor and her wild attempts to seduce the clearly uninterested man over the alive-but-dead-to-her carcass of her husband is somehow comic gold. The doctors tell her that her husband will be fine yet she tells him he has days to live.

  7. this is one of the funniest shows i’ve ever seen. i rarely laugh at tv shows but it was rare with this show when i wasn’t busting a gut. i was actually thinking about it this morning. i love the scene where jill runs into her customer who needed an ‘eyebrow adjustment’ at a cafe while on a blind date with the guy from “League of Gentlemen”(which is my 2nd favorite show, esp. the third season with no laugh track). as far as meanness and hilarity go i would say the closest comparisons would be the original “Office” or “Extras.”

  8. I disagree with the assessment that Larry David’s character WANTS be liked. I think the character is amazed and dumbfounded that anyone could not/does not like him. Thus the dissimilarity in trying to compare both show. One is about someone who feels just and smart and all his actions following this become calamitous/hilarious. The other is, as stated above, is about a sociopath.

  9. I love this show. I have watched the whole series 3 times now and it never ceases to make me want to pee myself!

  10. The thing about Larry is that he is likeable because most of what he says really is right, and what he does is often what we’d like to do if we weren’t so bound by social manners.

    Alan Partridge would be a good comparison, being kind of just a rude clod….but funny.

    Anyway, just put this show in my netflix queue.

  11. Nighty Night is probably my least favourite of the comedies made by this loose group of comedians, but it’s still good. The actors in it were also in BrassEye, Jam, I’m Alan Partridge, The Armando Iannucci Shows and one of them is in the League of Gentlemen, which are all magnificent.

  12. Christ is she funny. She gives her work a nasty tone, which might not be for everyone, but she’s a unique comic voice IMHO. Maybe Sarah Silverman is a little like her, although Julia does not overplay the cute, chirpy angle like SS. And Ruth Jones as “Linderrrr”, too funny.

  13. This show is great, though not for everyone. As to the Curb Your Enthusiasm comparison, well, that’s probably the worst comparison I’ve heard in ages. Just because something is somewhat outrageous, it’s like Curb Your Enthusiasm? A four year old could make a better comparison, for all they are worth.

    Comparisons, I mean, not four year olds.

  14. I netflixed it after reading this post. It was amazing. I only wish we could get a region 1 DVD of Series 2. I have to see it!

  15. The reason it’s hard to find an apt comparison for Julia Davis’ character is because you absolutely do NOT relate to her. The CYE comparison is awful because everyone relates to Larry David. You feel caught up in the misunderstandings he always finds himself in and empathize. That’s how the show works. Not so with Julia’s character. The boss from the BBC Office is a little closer, because he’s so ignorant, but THAT’s pitiable. Julia’s character is irredeemable and completely unsympathetic. She’s an anomaly. A wonderful anomaly!

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